When you're out and about and have to “go,” you may not want to touch anything in one of those public restrooms.
After all, how many people have flushed that toilet or turned that doorknob before you?
You can imagine how those shared surfaces can be CRAWLING with bugs.
It's a jungle out there!
So, it’s understandable if you want to try to avoid touching ANYTHING while you’re in there doing your “business” – and thankfully, many public places have installed “automatic” faucets, soap dispensers, and even paper towel dispensers that don’t require you to do anything more than just wave your hand in front of them.
But there’s one “touchless” amenity in modern restrooms that might not be saving you from picking up any of those germs.
In fact, according to a new report, hands-free dryers can blow bacteria all over your hands!
In the study, University of Connecticut researchers put special plates under the airstream of hand dryers found in the school's restrooms to see what critters got blown out.
And it turned out that just 30 seconds of exposure was long enough for DOZENS of colonies of bacteria to grow on the plates.
In fact, one test plate even contained 254 colonies of germs!
One of the bad bugs picked up by the plates was Staphylococcus aureus -- which can cause skin infections, pneumonia, and life-threatening sepsis. Hand dryers can even spread one of the worst bugs out there: Clostridium difficile (a.k.a. C. diff), which causes deadly diarrhea.
The theory is that flushing a toilet without a cover on its seat (and public toilets rarely have lids) can kick up a lot of bacteria from, well, poop and send it scattering throughout the air. In turn, the hand dryers suck up those bowel bugs and send them right back out ON YOUR WET HANDS.
Now, the study did find that adding a HEPA filter to the hand dryers reduced bacteria by up to 75 percent, but when you use a public restroom, you’ve got no way of knowing whether the hand dryers are outfitted with a fresh one (or even one at all!).
Now, if you don't want to pick up a cold or something more serious, washing your hands frequently with plain ol' soap and warm water is your best bet for protecting yourself. Obviously, the solution here isn’t to stop washing your hands.
But if you don't want to invite bacteria onto your hands after you've just washed them off, it's best to steer clear of hand dryers altogether.
Since alcohol-based hand sanitizers DON'T kill C. diff and other lethal pathogens, just soap up… rinse off… and then dry off with a paper towel.
Carry a few extras in your pocket or purse in case none are provided (or just to avoid using something that’s had poop pathogens sprayed all over it from flush after flush!).